Sunday, July 31, 2011

How To Knit Using a Round Loom

Loom knitting is fun and easy.  All sorts of things can be created using looms, including hats, sweaters, doll clothes, and stuffed animals.  I made this How To video to show beginners how to use these looms.  Different sized looms make different sized tubes.  Many of the knit stuffed animals found in CreativeCritters were made using various sized knitting looms.
When I first got my looms I had a hard time finding a good tutorial on exactly how to use them, which is why I made this video.  I hope it can help others learn this fun variation on knitting!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Get in on last minute deals on ArtFire with Christmas in July sales!

There's only a few more days to get Christmas in July savings on handmade gifts from the talented artists on  At CreativeCritters I'm offering 10% off all my items until the end of July.  Check out the deals from some of these other shops as well!

Get your shopping done from the comfort of your air conditioned home and avoid the crowds this holiday season!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Andrea Designs offers Scarves, Shawls, Jewelry, and more

AndreaDesigns on creates beautiful and colorful capelets, jackets, needlefelted jewelry, scarves,a nd shawls. Andrea loves to knit and design scarves, ponchos, shawls, baby clothing, and more.  Andrea is skilled in hand knitting, machine knitting,crocheting, needlefelting, sewing, and beading.  She learned to knit in high school, and is also a knitting machine instructor.  She taught herself  needlefelting and loves this technique. She is also in the TKGA Master Hand Knitting Program.  Andrea is also the guild master for the ArtFire Crazy Train, and does an amazing job promoting all the shops in this guild.  You can find Andrea Designs online at,,!/AndreaDesigns1, and  Below are a few of my favorite items from her shop.  Be sure to stop in and find a few favorites of your own!
Purple green glass feather needlefelted chocker  The Butterfly 
BLUE SKY SCARF turquoise peruvian alpaca,merino,french angora 
She's even offering free shipping on all items until the end of July!  Hurry in and save!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Blue Pink and Green- Handcrafted Jewelry

Abigale, of Blue Pink and Green, on really enjoys beading and finds it very fun and exciting.  She says, "I am really active and do not like to sit still. I always have to be doing something and beading keeps me occupied. Its really hard for me to sell a lot of my stuff because I love it so much, but I know I should sell it so I do not get too attached. My beading is in many different styles but most of it is very modern style, the style I like the best, and very pretty. I love to be outside so I get a lot of my inspiration from nature."  Become a fan of Blue Pink and Green on Facebook, and check out her YouTube channel too.
Not only does she sell her handmade jewelry in her shop, but she also offers handcrafted beads, like this colorful set made from the Sunday comics.  How cool is that?!
handmade sunday comics paper beads assortment of 10 beads 
You can also find beautiful necklaces like this.
green and blue glass ball necklace with metal and pearl accents 
And I just love these purple and white earrings!
purple and white earings 
And this blue and green bracelet is very reasonably priced- beautiful and affordable!
blue and green loop bracelet 
And there's a lot more where these beauties come from!  She's even offering free shipping when you use coupon code FREESHIP during checkout.  Be sure to check out everything she has to offer!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Friday, July 22, 2011

Staying cool during the Dog Days of summer

This week has been a hot one, and there's no doubt that we're well into the Dog Days of summer.  You know those hot and humid days that just make you want to melt.  Here in Ohio this week has officially qualified as a heat wave.  We've had temperatures at or above 90, with plenty of humidity to raise the heat index near 100 or more.  Like so many people, I do all I can to save money, and try to avoid running the air conditioner any more than absolutely necessary.  To keep the house as cool as possible I keep the curtains (which have thermal backing) closed during the day to block out the hot sun.  I also try to avoid adding any extra heat to the house, especially during the hottest part of the afternoon.  Unfortunately I no longer have a grill, so I can't do my cooking outside, but I do try to cook as little as possible, and use my electric skillet rather than the stove or oven.  The skillet uses less electricity and generates less heat than the oven.  Not only am I concerned about excess heat in the house, but I don't want to use more electricity than necessary and add extra stress to the grid.  When too many people are using a lot of electricity (think running the AC, cooking, pool filters, fans, etc.) you can get brown outs like we did yesterday.  The system simply can't supply all the power that is being demanded and large areas can lose electricity.  Ours was out for 4 hours yesterday.  To keep cool the cats and I stay down in the basement (which is partially finished).  I workout to exercise videos late in the evening downstairs, and if it's really hot that's when I'll turn the air conditioner on for a few hours.  At that hour fewer people are using electricity and the AC is more efficient and doesn't put as much of a strain on the system..  I also avoid doing anything that will add heat to the house, such as washing dishes or clothes.  I'll wash dishes at 1am, and sometimes even do my cooking  (enough for at least a few days) then.  I'm up at that hour anyway, so it's not that much of an inconvenience.

Of course the garden needs more water when it gets this hot.  I'll use the soaker hose either very early in the morning or late in the evening to minimize evaporation.  To conserve water the flowers get watered with rain water I save in buckets, or gray water from rinsing the dishes or the final rinse when I wash clothes.  The vegetable garden gets a deep soaking about once a week, depending on how much rain we get.  For me, conserving electricity and water has been a way of life for years.  Do what you can to beat the heat and stay cool!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Monday, July 18, 2011

Recipe for Low Fat Ice Cream Sandwiches

 This is the perfect recipe to cool you off in the hot summer temperatures.  Better yet, it's low calorie, low fat, and satisfies sweet, crunchy, and chocolate cravings all at once.  And the dark chocolate is full of good for you antioxidants.  I got this recipe from

Mini Ice Cream Sandwiches


  • 1/2 cup light vanilla ice cream (or frozen yogurt), softened at room temperature
  • 24 vanilla wafer cookies (1 1/2 inches in diameter)
  • 1 oz dark (or bittersweet) chocolate (60 to 70 percent cocoa solids), finely chopped                                                                                                                                                                                      


    1. Line a shallow storage container with waxed paper. Put a small scoop of ice cream (about 2 tsp) on a cookie; top with another cookie. Roll sandwich in chocolate so chips adhere to ice cream. Place in container. Repeat with remaining ingredients until you have 12 mini ice cream sandwiches. Cover container and place in the freezer to set for at least 30 minutes, or freeze for up to 1 week.

    Nutrition facts:

    220 calories for 3 sandwiches, 8 g fat (3 g saturated), 35 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 4 g protein

    What a great way to cool off! ;-)
    -Michelle of CreativeCritters

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Custom Dog Sculpture is Complete!

For those of you who have been following my latest work in progress, you know that I've been working on Rudy the Irish Wolfhound/ Collie mix sculpture for quite some time now.  At the end of my last post he was ready to be painted.  Rudy has a very unique coat and it took many layers of paint to achieve the right look.  After two months of work I'm happy to say that Rudy the dog sculpture is finally complete!  He sits 7" tall and I protected the painted surface with matte glaze.
Custom Order OOAK Irish Wolfhound Collie Mix Dog Sculpture for John  
Custom Order OOAK Irish Wolfhound Collie Mix Dog Sculpture for John
It wasn't easy getting the different colors to blend smoothly, but by using a combination of washes and dry brushing I achieved the right effect. The white blends into the tan, and the tan into the black gradually, with grayish white hairs showing through the black and tan fur.  The painting alone took several days.  I wanted to recreate Rudy the dog as close to the real thing as possible.  Since this will be part of a memorial display it has very special meaning.
Custom Order OOAK Irish Wolfhound Collie Mix Dog Sculpture for John 
Rudy was a much loved member of the family with a great deal of personality and I tried very hard to capture that in polymer clay.  He's been very carefully packed up and will head off to his new home tomorrow.
After spending so much time on this piece, I'm not exactly sure what I'll make next.  It will almost seem strange not to be working on Rudy.  I hope the customer will be as happy with the real thing as he was with pictures.  Thanks for following this creative journey through to the end with me!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lean Legs Workout from Shape

This is the latest workout I'm loving from Shape.  I've only done it a few times, but I can already see and feel a difference in my legs.

-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Celebrate Christmas in July with Sales from the Smooshers!

Many of the Polymer Clay Smooshers have joined in the Christmas in July promotion going on right now on ArtFire.  At CreativeCritters I'm offering 10% off every item in my shop for the entire month of July.  I put together a collection featuring some wonderful items on sale from some of my fellow guild members.  To see a list of all the Smoosher's shops participating in this sale, check out the list at the right side of the Smooshers Blog.

And this is only a very small sample of the wonderful artwork on sale from the Polymer Clay Smooshers.  Be sure to browse the shops and find a few early Christmas gifts.  Beat the holiday rush and save some money!
Have a very Merry Christmas in July!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My garden

It's been a rough spring for my vegetable garden, but those plants that survived the cold and wet weather are now thriving in the summer heat.  My cucumbers are doing quite well, loaded with pretty yellow flowers and little baby cucumbers.  I think this is the best year I've had so far for cucumbers.  Most of the plants survived and are now producing vegetables.

Eggplants are slow growers, and only about half the plants I started with survived.  The survivors are getting bigger now, and their flowers should start opening in the next few weeks.  Even if this plant didn't produce a delicious vegetable it has beautiful purple flowers and large soft fuzzy leaves.  Like many garden plants, you could grow it for looks alone. ;-)
I'm also starting to get tomatoes.  As usual, once the temperature warmed up the tomato plants grew like crazy.  For me there's no such thing as too many tomatoes.  What I don't eat fresh off the vine I turn into tomato sauce which I use in recipes all year long.  When I harvest more tomatoes than I can eat I wash them, place them on a baking tray, and stick them in the freezer until they're firm.  Then I seal them in plastic bags to store.  When I want to make sauce I thaw them out and the peels slip right off .  I think it's the easiest way I've found of preserving tomatoes.

The Bell peppers are also growing nicely and will be getting flowers any day now.  These seeds were mixed colors, so I could be harvesting, red, yellow, orange, and purple peppers soon.  I don't care for hot peppers, but I do love a nice crisp sweet Bell pepper.
And this is the first baby zucchini of the season.  I spotted a few more little ones today, and should have some yellow squash mixed in too.  Most of those plants look pretty good and they all have lots of flowers.  Zucchini and squash plants are usually pretty tough, and one plant can produce many vegetables.  I've got all sorts of delicious recipes for zucchini, and I enjoy it fresh from the garden in a salad.
And I just harvest some of the garlic I planted early last fall.  Like many bulbs, garlic divides and spreads: each of those little cloves can become an entirely new bulb of garlic.  I started with just a few bulbs several years ago, and this is what I harvested the other day.  And this isn't everything I planted either- I left some of the bulbs to grow larger, and may have another harvest again in the fall.
And I would have beans right now if the bunny hadn't eaten every single bean plant in the garden!  But it's hard to stay mad at anything this cute.
So I just fixed the holes in the fence and had a stern talk with the little rascal about not eating my vegetables.  The beans are actually getting leaves again, so I may get a small late season harvest.  
This is always the time of the year when the results of all my hard work in the garden start to show.  These fragile plants I started from tiny seeds are now big, strong, and vibrant.  I'm still amazed that huge plants like tomatoes (mine will be taller than me soon) start from a tiny little seed.  These resilient vegetables have battled harsh weather: rain, wind, hail, and frigid temperatures, insect attacks from bean beetles, cucumber beetles, slugs, and more,  and animals stripping their leaves from the stems.  And yet they continue to grow and most will produce nourishing vegetables until the first frost of fall.  A garden is so much more than just some dirt and plants- it's a life and death struggle, sometimes on a microscopic scale.  I can get lost in the beauty and magic of my garden.  Thanks for stopping in and sharing some of that garden magic! ;-)
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My entry for the Polymer Clay Smooshers Moods Challenge

The theme for this months Challenge from the Polymer Clay Smooshers Guild is Moods.  I had a lot of different ideas for this challenge, and I even thought I had settled on moody magnets.  However, when I picked up the clay and started smooshing, my muse took me in another direction entirely.  I ended up sculpting this whimsical purple elf holding a puppy wrapped in a blanket.Puppy Love OOAK Whimsical Handmade Purple Polymer Clay Elf Sculpture 
 Puppy Love OOAK Whimsical Handmade Purple Polymer Clay Elf Sculpture
I call this sculpture Puppy Love, and I remember that mood so well!  I was 18 when I got my first puppy (one that was truly MINE, not just a family dog).  Randi was so sweet, and I used to cuddle with her in bed at night when she was a puppy so she wouldn't be lonely.  Heck, even housebreaking her wasn't that bad.  She learned quickly, and always wanted to please.  Of course I had to add a little extra whimsy to the piece by making it an elf with his first puppy ;-)  And during the entire month of July this sculpture, along with everything else in my shop, is marked 10% off for my Christmas in July sale.  Thanks for stopping by my whimsical world of critters! ;-)
-Michelle of CreativeCritters